Reviewed by David Brock
AP Biology Teacher
This book provides a very straightforward presentation of how plastic is polluting the various environments on our planet. Following a brief history of plastic and how we make it, the author goes systematically through how our disposal of plastics are polluting the oceans, the land, and our air (via the practice of burning used computers to get their metals). He presents the facts and figures about recycling and the legal attempts to ban certain uses of plastics by various communities, and he discusses the role of education in making people aware of the challenges surrounding this issue. The book is targeted for a middle school student audience, and while it is a little more text–heavy than most modern teens are usually willing to wade through, the dramatic pictures should draw the reader in to want to learn more.
What makes me recommend this book is the marvelous level of balance the author maintains throughout the entirety of it. Plastic as a technology is never demonized, and yet the writer presents the clear and present dangers our misuses of it are creating with equal weight. There are regular moments where the reader is asked to pause and think about the complexity of the problem, and in the chapter on “Education and Awareness,” there is an entire section dedicated to talking about how, in the age of the internet, a responsible citizen can determine “Which facts are ‘best’ and ‘most true’?” (p. 52). It is the fact that this book challenges its readers to think that sets this book apart, and it would make a nice addition to a social issues curriculum in a middle school science course.
Review posted on 6/19/2012